the figure - the proportions of the human form.
A brief overview of the proportions of the human figure:
red lines in the drawing below indicate "heads." They show
the height of the head of this particular model. Most people's figures
follow simple rules when it comes to proportionsand using the
height of the head is a really good way of seeing how everything lines
quickly put the "head lines" (sorry for the pun) over one
of my sketches. This drawing shows that the model was approx. 7 3/4
"heads" high. Which is pretty normal. However, most artists
consider 8 head lengths to be "ideal." I do too. It was just
that this particular model was a little stockier. I don't consider the
loss of 1/4 of a head length (off of the "ideal") to be too
unacceptable in this case. However, if the model were drawn any shorter,
the drawing would probably not look too good.
reality, most people are about 7 1/2 head lengths, or even 6 1/2 head
lengths. But this just doesn't look "right" when drawn on
paper. So, it is acceptable (and strongly encouraged) to heighten
the figure a bit. 8 head lengths is the recommended standard for figure
drawings (or even 8 1/2 heads, if the person is very tall and "heroic").
if your model really is 6 1/2 heads high, it is very likely that your
drawing will not look right if you stick with the 6 1/2 head proportions
in your drawing. Everyone will tell you that you made the head too big.
Just draw the figure 8 heads high (or 7 1/2 is okay). Everyone will
tell you that it looks "just right," even though you'll know
that it isn't, strictly speaking, accurate for the model.
"heads" should align on most figure drawings this way:
head length: head!
head length: chest line at nipples.
head length: waistline, at bellybutton.
head length: groin area.
head length: a bit above the knee.
head length: just below knee.
head length: above ankle (or mid-calf, if the person is 8 heads).
& 3/4 (or eighth) head length: at bottom of feet.
measurements that should be noted:
the arms are at the side, the wrist bone aligns with the groin area.
elbow aligns with the waistlinearound or above the bellybutton.
width, side-to-side is about 2 to 2 1/3 heads wide.
One of the MOST common
newbie mistakes is to make the head too big for the body. Especially common
is to make the legs too short. This is unbelievably common. It
is almost inevitable that newbie artists do this. I remember my first
life drawingshorrid, horrid, horrid! And I was considered to be
able to draw pretty well at the time. It was a grave blow to my ego, to
see how poorly I had drawn the figure's proportions! But it happens all
the time, and we just don't seem to notice it when we are doing it.
So, I beseech everyonemeasure
and check these proportions! Do it before you put any dark lines
down on the drawing, so that any errors will be easier to erase. Measure
everything! You may be horrified to find that you've made your model dumpy
and short-limbed. Don't feel bad if you do this. We all have done it.
So, measure, measure, measure. You'll soon get out of the habit of making
the figure too short, or the head too big.
Also, if you can't
remember the proper arm lengths, just check your own body! For instance,
if you ever forget the placement of the elbows, you only have to stand
with your arms to your side to find out!
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